Time Out helps you get out more and enjoy the great outdoors. Here we profile some of the best places to walk in Dubai, including beaches and parks
Dubai is well known as a great city for petrolheads and architecture fans, but it’s also brilliant for those who like to clear their head with a stroll in the park. As the weather becomes wonderful again, lace up those trainers and get ready for the walk of your life. We take you around ten walking paths good for your body and your mind… and your Instagram feed.
District One Cycling & Running Track, Nad Al Sheba Difficulty level: 4/5 Start point: The Meydan Hotel End point: The Meydan Hotel Description: This 8.4km-long cycle path is popular among skateboarders, rollerbladers and cyclists, and offers wallpaper-esque views of the Downtown skyline. Open 24 hours, the track is lit at night by solar-powered lights, and it curves around The Meydan Hotel. It’s great if you want to work on your sprints, and resistance training. If travelling by public transport, do this walk in the day, as it can be difficult to get taxis. Essential stop: Tennis 360 (04 381 3504). Book in for a one-on-one tennis lesson. You may bump into Novak Djokovic, as this is his practise court of choice when he’s in town. Listen to: Desert Island Discs This long-running BBC Radio 4 show has an archive that goes back to 1942, with enough inspirational and aspirational stuff to keep you going through this tough walk. Free. www.bbc.co.uk.
Jumeirah Lakes Towers Difficulty level: 2/5 Start point: Damac Properties Metro station, near Cluster T End point: Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Cluster A
Description: Getting lost in your car might be a frequent phenomenon over on this side of Sheikh Zayed Road, however when on foot, the walk around the winding lakes of JLT is calming. We recommend starting near Cluster X and walking towards McGettigan’s at Cluster J. The cafés, bars and restaurants along the walking path are a great test of self-control. The lake view stops here for two parks near the Armada Towers in Cluster Q – great for people-watching. Order a banana peanut butter milkshake at Sheikh and Shake in Cluster R before heading over to the basketball court opposite the One JLT building to watch a casual game. Keep heading south, past the pedestrian bridge, and stop at Park N Shop in Cluster E. The final prize awaits across another pedestrian cross in Cluster A, at Jazz@PizzaExpress. Need more convincing? Essential stop: Cocktail Kitchen, Cluster P, (056 828 0727). Listen to: Switched on Pop If you know your Taylor Swift from your Tim McGraw, join this discussion on how our relationship with music has changed over the years. There is also a weekly discourse on the Top 40 chart, which you may enjoy if you’re particularly tired of Justin Bieber. Free. www.switchedonpop.com.
Jumeirah Corniche Difficulty level: 3/5 Start point: Kite Beach End point: Jumeirah Public Beach Description: One of the most iconic and relaxing spots in Dubai, the running track on this strip of coastline stretches right from the nose of the Burj Al Arab to Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa – 14km in total. If you’re short of time, we recommend walking from Kite Beach towards Jumeirah Public Beach. Every sight is worthy of an Instagram post, with the shoreline and the keen paddleboarders to your right. Essential stop: There are plenty of public changing rooms along the corniche, so carry your bathers and take a dip in the water after your walk. Listen to: Stuff You Should Know How did language evolve? How does reverse psychology work? The talks on these podcasts are given by the people at www.howstuffworks.com and are great to start your morning with, especially if you’re looking to fill your head with random but important bits of information. Free. Available on iTunes.
Palm Jumeirah Crescent Difficulty level: 4/5 Start point: Eden Beach Club End point: One&Only The Palm Description: You need agility, patience and plenty of water to do this walk, as it’s long and can get a little frustrating if you’re not mentally prepared for it. This newly opened boardwalk runs alongside the outer crescent and spans 11km one way. There is no shade or spots to take a breather, however, the views of the Arabian Gulf are glorious as long as you ignore the construction cranes across the road. If you want views of Downtown, walk from Atlantis The Palm towards Eden beach club, and if you want Dubai Marina and JBR views, go the other way. That said, be mindful that there is no parking, and you’ll have to get a taxi in and out of either end. It’s a quiet and long walk, but a successful one if you have 10,000 steps left on your tracker. Essential stop: Cold Stone Creamery, Atlantis The Palm (04 422 0556). Head inside the hotel via the Aquaventure entrance and get yourself a cheeky scoop. Listen to: TED Talks As this walk is a lengthy one, the educational, insightful audio clips will help you stay motivated and take you all the way to the other end of the Palm. Free. Available on iTunes.
Arabian Ranches Difficulty level: 1/5 Start point: Arabian Ranches Golf Club End point: Maison Mathis Description: A walk all the way around Arabian Ranches is about 10km long, but you don’t have to do the whole thing. There are meandering paths that take you around or through the different neighbourhoods, so you can make up your own route up as you go along – just try not to get lost. There are tennis courts dotted around the area and there’s even a skate park. There are two lakes to walk round, both of which are floodlit at night, and there are benches, too, if you need to stop and catch your breath. Once you get back to the Golf Club, pop inside for a meal, or go next door to Maison Mathis. Essential stop: Arabian Ranches Retail Centre. Stop for a chance to refuel – you can grab a drink at Costa Coffee, or something more substantial at Man’oushe Street. Listen to: No Such Thing As A Fish This podcast from the team behind the TV show QI sees four friends gather around a microphone to share their favourite pieces of trivia – whether it’s the fact that Iceland imports ice or that scientists have invented barcodes for zebras. Free. Available on iTunes.
Al Fahidi to Al Shindagha Difficulty level: 2/5 Start point: Al Mussallah Road, Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood End point: Heritage Village, Al Shindagha. Description: Take a step back in time to explore an intriguing pocket of Old Dubai. The 2km walk takes roughly an hour and will take you through narrow streets crammed with independent outlets bursting with personality. The walk will take you past the beautiful fort that houses the Dubai Museum before you reach the striking Heritage Village in Al Shindagha, overlooking Dubai Creek. Crowds gather on the vast grounds of the impressive Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House (many to play ball games). The area is also home to a host of museums and a bookshop. Essential stop: Sherlock Holmes English Pub (04 351 9111). Good-value deals and plenty of atmosphere mean it’s no mystery why this quaint pub in the Arabian Courtyard Hotel is a fine place to refuel and relax. Listen to: Mystery Show The digital detective solves the great mysteries of our day – no, not crop circles or conspiracy plots. But it brings mirth to the seemingly mundane, such as who was the original owner of an old belt buckle. Free. Available on iTunes.
Burj Park Difficulty level: 2/5 Start point: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall Metro station End point: Dubai Opera Description: Downtown Dubai is a busy area for walks, but if you cleverly plan your route, you’ll be able to dodge the crowds, enjoy the vertical ambitions and work on your quads. Take the Metro for this route, as parking in Downtown can be hard to find. Walk along Emaar Square, cross the road and start your walk at the foot of the Burj Khalifa. Pass the bronze statue of the bull and head towards The Dubai Mall. Then cross the ramp near Fortnum & Mason. The views from here are great, so stop for a pot of tea if you’re thirsty. Pass The Palace Downtown Dubai and start brisk walking towards Dubai Opera. The path along here is a little elevated, to help burn up your hamstrings. The entire loop is about 2.5km, and a good one to do pre-sunrise if you want to avoid the crowds. Essential stop: Burj Lake Watch the fountains dance to Andrea Bocelli’s Time to Say Goodbye. The Dubai Fountain show runs every half hour from 6pm until 11pm. Listen to: Radio Headspace Unlike its Daily 10 mediation app service, the episodes on this podcast discuss important topics that cater to the well-being of the mind and soul. Answer questions like how does city life affect the mind, while walking to uninterrupted views of the Burj Khalifa. Free. www.soundcloud.com/radioheadspace.
Deira Difficulty level: 3/5 Start point: Palm Deira Metro station End point: Deira Gold Souk Description: A wander along the bustling streets of Deira is even more special at sunset, as this is when the streets come to life. Head towards Naif from the Metro station, which should take you about 20 minutes. Naif used to be a livestock market in the early days, however, today, it’s known for its inexpensive textiles, electronic items and souvenirs. There’s no set path to follow, but wandering through Naif Souk (and getting lost in it) is where the fun is. Brave the chaotic alleyways to shop for pashminas, colourful kaftans, Pakistani handicrafts, sandals and more. The Gold Souk is a ten-minute walk from here, too. Then pop inside Naif Museum, housed in an old fort built in 1939 that was once Dubai’s police headquarters. Essential stop: Al Kabab Al Afghani next to Naif Police Station (600 522 554). It’s famous for its succulent grills served over mountains of flavoured rice. Listen to: Dukkan Show This Dubai-based podcast highlights the urban culture that is on the rise in the UAE, and how the expat community in Dubai is inadvertently helping its case. Free. www.soundcloud.com/dukkanshow.
Dubai Marina Promenade Difficulty level: 2/5 Start point: Dubai Marina Mall End point: Pier 7 Description: A waterside track of around 7km, Marina Promenade takes you in a complete loop of the Marina and should take around an hour and half to complete, depending on your pace – the path is popular for both a leisurely stroll and a run. It’s not a hard walk, being flat and with an end point in sight, plus there are plenty of places to stop for coffee or snacks along the way. Enjoy the twinkling lights of the Marina and admire the yachts docked by the yacht club. Once you’ve done a full loop, you can always do some shopping at Dubai Marina Mall or refuel at Pier 7. Essential Stop: Baker & Spice (04 362 4686). Grab one of the signature salads or treat yourself to a pastry and just think of all the calories you’ve burnt… Listen to: Modern Love. A regular column featured in The New York Times has been turned into a show that narrates heartbreaking and happy stories about love. Free. Available on iTunes.